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Help a Suicidal Friend

btn_medical_emergencySuicide Crisis Lifeline

How to Help a Suicidal Friend

There is no room for guessing, assuming, or taking chances or risks with another person’s life, especially when they are at risk for suicide. We can’t predict the future. If you feel – even in the slightest – worried, anxious, scared, uncomfortable, unsure, or frightened by what you are seeing and hearing from a friend, you MUST take action.

Take the individual to an emergency room, or mental health walk-in clinic.
Do not leave them alone until help is available.
Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt

Taking action may involve talking with others, a responsible school authority, or a mental health professional. Don’t try to do it alone. It is often best to involve others in helping someone at increased risk. Here are some ways to be helpful to someone who is threatening suicide or who is engaged in suicidal behaviors:

• Be aware – learn the risk factors and warning signs for suicide.
• Be direct – talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide, about what you have observed, and what are
your concerns for their well- being
Be willing to listen – allow expressions of feelings, accept the feelings, and be patient
Be non-judgmental – don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good
or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
Don’t give advice – by making decisions for someone else
Get involved – become available, show interest, understanding and support.
Don’t dare him or her to do it
Don’t act shocked – depression is real, common and treatable. Suicidal feelings are real and preventable.
Don’t ask “why”
Don’t be sworn to secrecy
Offer hope that alternatives are available – but do not offer glib reassurances that any one alternative
will turn things around
Take action – remove lethal means of self-harm, such as pills, ropes, and alcohol or other drugs
Get help from others with more experience and expertise
Be actively involved in encouraging the person to see a professional

Individuals contemplating suicide often don’t believe that they can helped, so you may have to be more active and more persistent in helping them get the help they need.If a friend has a problem, it’s easy to feel helpless and confused. Don’t try to deal with the situation alone, even if your friend wants to swear you to secrecy. Helping them is much easier if you have a little help from other friends, family or professionals.
You can also make things easier by just being a good friend. Be direct and honest. Encourage getting help without sitting in judgment, acting shocked or suggesting that you have all the answers. Don’t be skeptical or dismissive. And – above all – be available and listen.


Many people at some time in their lives think about dying by suicide. Most decide to live because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death in permanent. However, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. Frequently they may experience some of the following thoughts and feelings:

Can’t think clearly
Can’t make decisions
Can’t see any way out
Can’t sleep, eat or work
Can’t get out of a depression
Can’t make the sadness go away
Can’t see a future without pain
Can’t see themselves as worthwhile
Can’t get someone’s attention
Can’t seem to get control over their lives

If you experience these thoughts and feelings, GET HELP. If someone you know exhibits or reports these
thoughts and feelings, OFFER HELP.


Help is often available on campuses through the following resources:
student counseling center, student health service staff, resident hall director, dean, academic advisor, tutor, faculty campus religious or spiritual leader community mental health center


Of course, it’s hard to get a good, objective perspective on our own thoughts and feelings. One thing that can help is taking this confidential and anonymous screening, either for yourself or a friend. Answering this simple series of questions can provide some valuable insight into your state of mind.

Prevent Teen Suicide

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